tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 25, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
local news at 6:00. we'll see you thin. have a good night. on this saturday night, movie theater rampage. new details about the louisiana gunman, his movements before the shooting, the warning signs about his mental health, and how he was able to purchase a gun. firefight. the battle against wildfires in the west in what is shaping up as one of the worst fire seasons in decades. and shopping wars. the newest players in the fight for your money online. some say the price is right. but is that enough to steal market share? >> and helping hands. the remarkable effort to save a stranded killer whale, keeping it alive until the tide turns. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: from nbc news world
headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news." reporting tonight, kate snow. good evening. we're learning much more tonight about the man who stood up in a movie theater on thursday night in louisiana and opened fire, killing two people, injuring nine others. the family of john rusty houser describes a history of mental illness. in 2008, they had him committed to a hospital against his will. and yet last year, houser was able to legally purchase a gun in alabama. it's the latest mass shooting to raise questions about potential cracks in the federal background check system. we begin tonight with nbc's gabe gutierrez in lafayette, louisiana. gabe, good evening. >> reporter: kate, good evening. one of the biggest questions right now is why here? the gunman had no ties to the community. only his uncle died here three decades ago. investigators say he was a drifter, and they are now digging deep into his past. today newly released dispatch recordings of first responders racing to the movie theater.
>> need you up to the grand theatre on johnson. we have an active shooting there. >> reporter: two people shot dead. plus the gunman. nine wounded. >> headquarters to the unit at the grand. it is safe to enter. >> reporter: police say the shooter, 59-year-old john rusty houser had planned his getaway. he walked out this door but turned around when he saw officers. you think if those officers hadn't arrived so quickly, he could have escaped. >> absolutely. his vehicle was parked in such a manner he could have just gotten in and driven away. >> reporter: court documents show his family tried to get him treatment for bipolar disorder, saying he was a danger to himself and others. and committing him to a hospital against his will in 2008. while federal authorities say the gun he used was purchased legally in alabama last year, some experts question whether that involuntary hospitalization should have raised a red flag. >> if he is
adjudicated as a mental effective, meaning he's a danger to himself or others or not able to handle his affairs because of his mental capacity, he is also barred from having a firearm. >> reporter: houser's wife recently filed for divorce. he lost his home to foreclosure. his brother says that may have been the tipping point. >> he started getting dark on us and quiet and withdrawn. >> reporter: years ago in his alabama hometown, houser hung this oversized nazi flag over the bar he owned. the former mayor said he had a troubled past. >> probably a good description would be a time bomb. >> reporter: still, authorities say they are no closer to a motive as lafayette remembers its victims and rallies around its wounded, including two teachers who were shot while manage to go pull the fire alarm, warning hundreds of others. >> it took a lot for them not to think of themselves and do what they did. they will always be a hero to me. >> reporter: tonight, those two teachers are now recovering at home. at last check, five other shooting victims are still hospitalized. and the funeral for
one of the women killed is scheduled for monday. kate? >> so important to remember those victims. gabe, thank you so much. some scary moments today in las vegas after fire broke out in the pool area of a hotel on the strip. the pool is on the 14th floor deck of the cosmopolitan hotel. the fire burned cabanas and trees, causing that thick black smoke you see. hotel guests were forced to evacuate. two people suffered smoke inhalation. the fire was brought under control after about 45 minutes. also in the west, a big battle against wildfires still going on tonight across three states. but that's only part of the story in what has already been an epic wildfire season, one of the worst in the last 25 years in terms of acres burned. we get more tonight from gadi schwartz. >> oh, my gosh, go! go now. go. >> reporter: caught on the road as a wave of fire approaches. >> fast! dad, go! >> reporter: a family's camping trip into glacier national
park in montana turns into a race to escape the flames. this year fire has been burning through dry brush and forests all across the country. so far 5.6 million acres have burned in the u.s. that's bigger than the state of massachusetts. with over 34,000 wildfires this year. and 124 new fires starting just yesterday alone. in the drought-stricken west -- >> i expect a lot of tired firemen. a lot of sleepless nights for us. >> reporter: preparations are under way. >> we are fighting the battle before it even starts. >> reporter: usually weather forecasters are able to predict fire fire. >> that's not the case here. the fire is being fueled no matter what the weather does. >> reporter: california's wine country seeing its rolling hills devoured. firefighters are finally gaining control of a nearly 7,000 acre wildfire which burned through napa valley for three days. >> we could see huge
flames off the hill behind us. >> reporter: while another wildfire is threatening the supply of water for walla walla, washington. in alaska a place usually synonymous with the cold record-high temperatures and an astounding 4.7 million acres scorched. today back in glacier park, montana -- >> so you know about the fire? all right. you be safe. >> reporter: every greeting comes with a warning. this summer on track to be one of the worst fire seasons yet. gadi schwartz, nbc news, los angeles. and little relief in sight for the west or the middle of the country where millions of people are dealing with a heat wave this weekend with temperatures in the triple digits. for more on that, let's bring in meteorologist stephanie abrams. stephanie, let's go back to the wildfires first. any relief out west in sight for the firefighters? >> there is some for the northwest. we will see clouds and showers brought in by the jet stream early next week. but unfortunately for central and southern california, it is going to remain dry. into the central plains, we have a high pressure. that means we will see more heat and more sunshine. the thermometer will read upper 90s.
but remember our temperatures actually are taken in the shade officially. so if you're in the sunlight, it will feel even hotter. heat indexes well above 100. it shifts into the southeast and then eventually into the northeast. our temperatures will be on the rise from 5 to 10 degrees. kate, it looks like it is here to stay for many of us. >> it is just baking out there. stephanie, thanks so much. to politics now. and even before his appearance in iowa today, donald trump was taking on that state's biggest and most influential newspaper. and the attacks continued during his event at a high school. we get more tonight from nbc's katy tur. >> reporter: they came out early waiting in the sun and iowa humidity for donald trump. >> i admire his candor. >> he's a get her done guy. >> reporter: texas new hampshire and arizona trump
supporters sound like an echo chamber. >> he tells the truth. >> he'll be our next president. >> he will stand firm. >> reporter: and so does trump. hitting his opponents, the establishment and the press every chance he gets. >> this has been a big week. first of all, hillary is now officially under investigation. it's just a game that goes on in washington. >> reporter: not in attendance at the overcapacity rally, iowa's biggest newspaper "the des moines register requests after an editorial called trump a bloviated sideshow. >> they are standing outside too. it is not respected around here. >> reporter: the paper just the latest to take trump heat for saying something he didn't like. think john mccain or lindsey graham. here in iowa where the median how old income is just over $52,000, many in the crowd said it was his business savvy that brought them out. >> i just want to see relief for small businesses and farmers. >> reporter: is that the biggest priority for you right now, business? >> pretty much.
>> we talk about the desire to bring jobs. >> no politician can do that. >> reporter: trump, who's already spent $2 million of his own money on the campaign, says there's no upper limit to how much he will shell out so long as he stays relevant. >> if i see i'm not doing well, it could be at some point my message won't resonate. i don't go forward if it's not going to resonate. i know. i'm a big boy. but right now nobody has the message i have. >> reporter: as for a potential third-party run, trump says he's running as a republican now. he wants to run as a republican. thinks he can win as a republican. but he won't rule out running as an independent if the rnc does not treat him fairly. kate, it's unclear what fairly means in this situation. >> katy tur in iowa tonight. thanks. >> tomorrow on "meet the press", chuck todd talks with two other presidential candidates, republican governor john kasich of ohio and bernie
sanders who is running for the democratic nomination. as for the man they would like to replace, president obama spent his first day in kenya, east africa, his ancestral home. it's a country where he's treated like family but also where he spoke bluntly today about some of the issues kenya faces. our senior white house correspondent chris jansing has the story from nairobi. >> reporter: huge crowds on the streets of nairobi today hoping to catch a glimpse of the man viewed as kenyan royalty. president obama hopes to use that popularity to pressure kenyan leaders on democracy and human rights, particularly gay rights. >> as an african-american in the united states, i am painfully aware of the history of what happens when people are treated differently under the law. >> at a frank and often pointed press conference, the president suggested a culture of corruption is holding kenya back. >> doing business and ordinary people just moving along in their lives here is constantly sat by
corruption at a high level and a low level. >> reporter: he also took on the legacy issue, answering questions who say his predecessors have done more for africa than he is. >> i have done everything i have done to build on the successes. it isn't a beauty contest between presidents. >> reporter: he praised cooperation for the fight against terrorism, laying a wreath at the memorial of the 1998 bombing of the u.s. embassy here. family diplomacy fell to his half sister alma who decided the guest list for last night's dinner. >> there are cousins and uncles and aunties that show up that you didn't know existed. but you're always happy to meet. >> reporter: no presidential meet-and-greet for the colorful, loud, and energetic crowd of nairobi. but they were still having a good time.
and inside the state dinner. >> some of my critics back home are suggesting i'm back here to look for my birth certificate. that is not the case. >> reporter: and so it was the president himself who made what was perhaps an inevidentable birther joke. tomorrow he is giving a major speech at the nairobi stadium. police are preparing for the possibility that hundreds of thousands of people could show up. we expect president obama to speak very personally about his connection to kenya. kate? >> he is very popular there. chris jansing, thanks so much. back in this country, sandra bland was buried outside chicago as questions remain about her death in a texas jail three days after her arrest during a traffic stop. here's nbc's john yang. >> reporter: hundreds of people gather at a church near sandra bland's hometown today to celebrate her 28-year life. >> we celebrate that she found her voice. she found her purpose in social justice.
>> reporter: this, one day of the release of the official autopsy report which ruled bland's death a suicide. her family isn't buying it. they have conducted a separate autopsy of their own. >> i think something very bad happened to her. i really, really do. and i think it's all going to come out. >> reporter: illinois senator dick durbin is now asking the justice department to join the texas rangers and fbi who are already looking into bland's arrest, incarceration and death. he says, the disturbing series of events in this case deserve answers. bland was found dead in her jail cell three days after a traffic stop that quickly escalated on both sides. bland's sister shared the last voice mail from her just hours before her arrest. >> good news! i did get the job i came down here for. so call me when you get some time. bye. >> we just miss her. she was a really great person. >> many people across
the country have taken up the banner of sandra bland's death for many reasons. but here today, the focus is simple. a family saying good-bye to a beloved daughter, sister, and aunt. >> this is the most impassioned i have felt about something and the most inspired i felt about something. and that came from somebody that i had the pleasure of knowing for 28 years. >> reporter: laying her sister to rest as she struggles with questions about her death. john yang, nbc news, lyle, illinois. when "nightly news" continues on this saturday, a new website going after the king of online shopping. and later, colonel jack jacobs on how the stars and stripes became one painter's passion.
you may have heard the news this week that amazon reported a huge profit, sending its stock soaring and market value to $250 billion. that's even bigger than walmart. with all that money in mind, a new player jumped into the online shopping wars this week. it's called jet.com. we get more from nbc's hallie jackson. >> here's how to jet. >> reporter: as jet.com takes off, it hopes to change how you buy things online. modeled after a shopping club like costco and taking aim at retail giant amazon. >> we are innovating around price in a way we don't think anyone has to date.
our value proposition is very is simple. you spend $50 a year to join as a jet member. and you save hundreds of dollars a year relative to the lowest prices online. >> reporter: jet says you can save more money on the site by using a debit card instead of a credit card, by waiving your right to return and by putting more products in your cart at each purchase. >> if you buy peanut butter, jelly will be sold at a discount. >> reporter: meredith has been testing jet and plans to pay the $50 a year member fee. >> as you add more items, you see your savings go up. you are visually seeing how much you're saving, which to me is huge. >> reporter: while the cost of membership is less than amazon prime, jet doesn't offer perks like streaming video and same-day delivery. >> they are making the bet that enough people care about getting the lowest prices. if you care more about same-day shipping or two-day delivery, go to amazon. if you're okay with three- to five-day shipping but you want the best price, come to us.
>> reporter: on social media, a mixed reaction. some calling the pricing confusing and slamming the selection. with more of us shopping online than ever before, having a new companies step onto the scene could benefit all of us. >> whether or not jet works long term, in the short-term, this is a great thing for shoppers because they have all this competition which does ultimately drive down prices. >> it all starts with a simple search. >> reporter: in the battle for your cash -- >> everybody wins. >> reporter: the winner? the customer. hallie jackson, nbc news, los angeles. and when we come back, the unusual rescue mission to save a stranded creature from the deep.
they are majestic creatures. killer whales, also known as orcas. when one of them became stranded in canada, caught on the rocks on a beach in british columbia, the human response was remarkable. we get the story tonight from kelly cobiella. >> reporter: the pod of killer whales was hunting seals on this remote stretch of canada's west coast on wednesday. but one less experienced whale found herself trapped on the rocks as the tide went out. >> watching this guy laying on the rocks there. slowly drying up as the tide falls. it was something else. >> reporter: nearby, a whale research team. they radioed for help. >> we grabbed ropes. we grabbed buckets. anything we thought we would be able to use.
>> reporter: volunteers made a water pump out of duct tape and an old hose. they draped the whale in wet blankets, a pillowcase on her dorsal fin. showering her in seawater for hours to keep her cool. as the mammal's family circled offshore. >> as first her breathing was getting a little faster. after a little while i think she knew we were there to help her. >> reporter: all these rescuers could do was keep her calm and wait for high tide. after eight agonizing hours -- >> so close. >> reporter: the water rushed in and the whale finally broke free. >> yes! >> reporter: final reunited and on the hunt again. kelly cobiella, nbc news. >> what a happy ending. up next, one man's artistic vision in red, white, and blue.
finally tonight, when it comes to our national symbol, the american flag is unrivaled. with that in mind, one man has largely devoted his life to a patriotic and artistic mission to paint the flag. he's done it thousands of times. we get his story from our own medal of honor recipient, colonel jack jacobs. >> reporter: scott lobaido can actually see the finished work in his mind, before he begins. >> it's nine different colors.
three shades of the white stripe, three shades of the red stripe, three shades of the blue. >> reporter: the american flag is to lobaido what the mona lisa is to the world, a masterpiece. >> what is a great work of art? something that pulls emotion out of a grown man. tears out of big, burly men. no other work of art does that. >> reporter: for the last 25 years, the staten island artist has painted thousands of rendition of american glory from rooftops to schools, in disaster areas and beyond. >> little by little, once i started doing these three dimensional things, unfortunately after september 11th, patriotism blew up. that's what people needed. that's what that flag does, it brings people together. >> reporter: five yearsing a in houston, lobaido painted the world's largest version of the flag. >> you can see it from space. >> reporter: stretching some 3 1/2 acres. >> old glory, she's a
living, breathing thing. >> reporter: earlier this year, lobaido embarked on a new mission, to paint an american flag on a vfw or american legion post in every state. >> the flag symbolizes to me pride, pride in my country, pride in what we stand for. >> reporter: when we were with him in denver, it took lobaido just hours to paint this one. >> i thought it was important to bring them down and see the flag. because for me they can become old men and drive by this vfw and say, i saw this flag painted. i saw this flag put on this wall by an amazing artist. >> reporter: lobaido's latest art project is his gift to all those who serve in the armed forces. >> i'm just a messenger. god gave me a gift. my parents molded the talent. and the men and women in the armed forces give me the right to use it. i'm just going around and spreading it. ♪ >> reporter: his art is indeed a masterpiece. but he says what really inspires him is
the american flag and the dedicated people who defend it. colonel jack jacobs, nbc news, denver, colorado. >> that's 39 states down. 11 to go. and that is "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm kate snow reporting from new york. i'll see you right back here tomorrow night. ==peggy/vo== a beloved teacher, lost in the wlilderness for over a week now. the major search and rescue mission that's underway right now, to try to find him....and bring him home el snamt beloved teacher lost in the wilderness for over a week. the search and rescue effort that is underway to try to bring
him home safely. terry mcsweeney has the night off tonight. volunteers are searching for the san francisco teacher who has been missing for more than a week. ed cavanaugh was last seen on friday. he was dirt biking with a friend in georgetown and decided to continue on his own. he is an avid outdoorsman. he teaches students wilderness skills. hive in down high school where he teaches. this is really a major search effort. friends are in eldorado county to search. friends are telling us, ed cavanaugh is an experienced dirt bike rider. 46 years old, a well liked high school teacher in high school. on july 17 he went for a ride in the forest